Getting Started

Online courses use a personal computer to connect participants from across the country and around the world via the internet.

Generally speaking, in an online course, you can expect to:

  • access your course(s) online by logging into Brightspace with a personal password
  • participate in a course with set start and end dates. Many classes have been developed with a structure similar to traditional on-campus courses with due dates tied to assignments, readings, and other activities
  • proceed through course requirements together with your class, but also access the course at any time of day that is convenient to you
  • make a time commitment of at least 9-12 hours per week or more for a condensed course (less than 15 weeks)

Online courses at MSU have specific start and end dates, just like face-to-face courses. This type of schedule allows students to learn together as a group and benefit from intellectual exchange with their peers, much like students in a face-to-face environment.

Courses run on a semester basis in the fall, spring, and summer. Many fall and spring courses begin in September or January respectively. Others may begin later. Summer courses begin at varying times in May, June, July, or August.

All of MSU’s online courses are offered via Brightspace. You can login with your NetID at http://ecat.montana.edu/.

Course and Degree Offerings

To see all online courses offered through Montana State University, please visit the Online Degrees and Certificates page.

Learn how to register for an online course.

Learn the cost of an online course.

Yes. There are several certificate and degree programs available. See the Online Degrees and Certificates page.

If you wish to take online courses, but do not plan on earning a degree, apply to become a non-degree student. If you have not received your Bachelor's degree, apply as an undergraduate student. If you have received your Bachelor's degree, apply as an online graduate student.

See the Apply to MSU page. Some courses are open only to students accepted into a particular program.

That depends on the program. Contact the program you are interested in for more information. See the Online Degrees and Certificates page.

Cost, Time, and Financial Aid

The cost to take online courses at Montana State University varies. For more information, visit the Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid for online courses page.

Students who have a bachelor's degree will need to pay the current MSU graduate tuition when enrolling in either undergraduate or graduate courses, in addition to any fees assigned to the course offering.

Health insurance is mandatory whenever you are enrolled for 6 or more academic credits. If you have your own insurance, you may waive participation in the student policy.

Students must waive each semester that they are registered for 6 or more credits. All online students may waive through MyInfo, MSU's online student information system, after they register. 

If you experience difficulty while requesting a waiver or if you have questions, please call the student health insurance office at (406) 994-3199.

Students with fewer than 6 credits may be eligible for coverage depending on their enrollment circumstances. For more information, call (406) 994-3199.

For information about the student Blue Cross Blue Shield policy, including current rates, please visit the BCBS Student Health Insurance Plan Web site.

Online courses at MSU have specific start and end dates, just like face-to-face courses. This type of schedule allows students to learn together as a group and benefit from intellectual exchange with their peers, much like students in a face-to-face environment.

Courses run on a semester basis in the fall, spring, and summer. Many fall and spring courses begin in September or January respectively. Others may begin later. Summer courses begin at varying times in May, June, July, or August.

Expect to spend as much time on an online course as you would in a similar face-to-face course. You should budget approximately 3-4 hours per credit hour each week, or even more time if you are not comfortable working with computers. (Example: for a 3-credit hour course, set aside 9-12 hours per week.) In a condensed course that’s shorter than 15 weeks, you should expect to spend more time per week.

Please visit The Office of Financial Aid Services to learn more about assistance that may be available to you.

Apply, Register, First Steps, and Student Records

All students must apply to MSU to take an online course. If you have not received your Bachelor's degree apply as an undergraduate student. If you have received your Bachelor's degree apply as an online graduate student.

If you wish to take online courses, but do not plan on earning a degree, apply to become a non-degree student under the umbrella of either undergraduate or graduate.

Please visit the Apply and Register page.

You can log into the MyInfo system to view the courses you have registered for. Please note:

  • Course start and end dates
  • Your instructor
  • How to obtain course materials/textbooks by contacting the bookstore or instructor
  • How to log into Brightspace, our learning management system
  • Library Services for online students
  • Learn how to log into Brightspace. Remember, you won’t be able to access your course(s) in Brightspace until the first day of class. Once you are logged into Brightspace, you can click the Overview link at the top to self-enroll in an overview course that will allow you to become familiar with the system.
  • Learn how to access your Student Records and Information in MyInfo.
  • Review the MSU Student Health Insurance plan. Health insurance is mandatory whenever you are enrolled for 6 or more academic credits. If you have your own insurance, you may waive participation in the student policy each semester. All online students may waive through MyInfo, MSU's online student information system, after they register or by calling the Student Health Insurance office at (406) 994-3199.
  • If you are taking only online courses and not physically coming to campus, please call Student Health Services at (406) 994-2311 to request a waiver of the immunization requirement. An immunization hold may prevent you from registering or carrying out other student administrative functions. Immunizations holds are reinstated in November and April. If you are a continuing online student, you may have to contact Student Health Services each fall and spring. Please note that if you register for an MSU on-campus course at a later date, you must then meet the immunization requirement.

Log into MyInfo, MSU’s secure student information portal. Within the MyInfo system, you can do the following:

  • Update your personal information, such as mailing addresses, email addresses and phone numbers
  • View your progress towards a degree through DegreeWorks
  • View grades and request official or unofficial transcripts
  • Review Financial Aid related information

Textbooks, Library, and Proctoring

Most textbooks can be ordered through your favorite brick-and-mortar or online bookstore. Your course may also use electronic texts that you can read, download, or print from your computer. In certain cases, MSU online programs may mail you a packet of materials for your course via surface mail.

Learn how to access resources available to online students through the MSU Library.

Check your course syllabus or with your instructor to find out if any of your exams need to be proctored. If so, check out the Proctoring for Online Courses page.

Add, Drop, Withdraw

Note: If you have been admitted to MSU and drop all courses, you must withdraw from the university. You can't drop to zero credits online, you must contact the Office of the Registrar at (406) 994-6650 or the Graduate School at (406) 994-4145 to do a University Withdrawal.

If you have been admitted to MSU and drop all courses, you must withdraw from the university for the semester. Learn more by visiting the University Withdrawal Procedure page.

There are withdrawal deadlines for every semester and they are listed in the Registration Handbook.

If you have been admitted to MSU and drop all courses, you must withdraw from the university. You can't drop to zero credits online, you must contact the Office of the Registrar at (406) 994-6650 or the Graduate School at (406) 994-4145 to do a University Withdrawal.

Grades, Credits, Transcripts, and Accreditation

MSU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Yes. The online courses are as rigorous and demanding as face-to-face courses. The credit you earn from an online course is the same you would earn in the equivalent face-to-face course.

 

Grades are housed in your MyInfo account under Student Services, then Student Records.

If you need assistance, please contact the Office of the Registrar and Enrollment Services at (406) 994-6650.

Transcripts may be requested from the Office of the Registrar’s Transcripts page.

Prospective undergraduate students can check the Transfer Equivalencies page to see which credits from other universities may transfer to MSU. The Office of Enrollment Services will officially evaluate your credits once you have been admitted, your transcripts are received, and you are enrolled at MSU. Visit the Undergraduate Admissions page to learn more.

Prospective graduate students can learn more by going to the College of Graduate Studies' Transferring Credits page.

You’ll need to check with the other university regarding transfers they accept. Be sure to include a copy of the MSU course description(s) with your request.

Technical Questions

All of MSU’s online courses are offered via Brightspace. You can login with your NetID at http://ecat.montana.edu/.

To find your username or reset your password, visit the Brightspace Password Information page. If you need further assistance, please contact the Help Desk at (406) 994-1777 or helpdesk@montana.edu.

Online courses at Montana State University are delivered via Brightspace learning management system. To ensure your computer meets the minimum requirements, please visit the automated System Check page. For more detailed information, visit the Platform Requirements for Brightspace page.

Some courses may have additional system requirements. Please read program and course descriptions carefully.

Visit the Brightspace Help page for self-help articles and guides. Helpdesk contact information will also be listed on the left side of the Help page.